Speaker Hertz Expresses ‘Disappointment’ over Bullock Meeting
After a meeting with legislative leaders and the media late last week, Montana Speaker of the House Greg Hertz expressed disappointment with the lack of substantive discussion with the governor over COVID 19 economic issues.
Hertz said reduced business income will lead to reduced tax revenues coming into the state.
“We Republicans feel that our economy is not in the best shape,” said Speaker Hertz. “I talk to a lot of business owners, I’m a small businessman myself, and that’s going to impact our revenue collections going forward. We’ve got enough money in the bank right now to get us through this fiscal year, but in 2021, 2022 and 2023, we’re expecting a downtown in the economy which will definitely impact our income tax collections.”
Hertz and other legislators asked Bullock to consider cutting state spending during the pandemic.
“We asked the governor if maybe he’d maybe just look at a modest five percent spending reduction between now and next June, and he felt like he could not do that,” he said. “Families across the state and businesses across the state are all reducing our budgets, and I would think the state government could help participate and do the same.”
Hertz brought up a recommendation from the federal government on how to best utilize the $1.25 billion the state received as its share of the CARES Act funding.
“One thing the Treasury Department recommended to all states was to give 45 percent of that money, which is about $500 million to local counties and cities, and I would support that,” he said. “The reason the federal government did, too was because when you give it to the counties and the cities then they can get it out the door faster. They understand the economic conditions on the ground in their individual areas, and that would be the best way to do it. However, for some reason, the governor wants to keep his supreme power and control over these dollars and he’s not getting them out the door.”
Hertz said that to date, ‘Governor Bullock has only disbursed 3% of these funds to Montanans, while a backlog of nearly 10,000 applications for grant requests from businesses and individuals await their fate by the pen of the Bullock Administration’.